EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD Ria Raikar, a medical aspirant from Andheri (West), had dropped a year after Class XII to realise her dream of becoming a doctor. After spending a year preparing for Maharashtra State Common Entrance Test (MH-CET), she answered the paper on May 5 and thought she had done reasonably well.
Then, the Supreme Court ruled that all aspirants for medical and dental courses across the country would have to sit for National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), and the state-level exams will not be valid anymore.
For Raikar, who says she is not prepared for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus-based NEET, this means her chances of securing admission to a medical course have gone down significantly. “I had done well in the MH-CET but I don’t know what the future holds any more,” she says. “I did not take a break in a year to prepare for the MH-CET. Now, I have to cover the CBSE syllabus for Class XI and Class XII in two months.”
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Like Raikar, students who had decided to wait a year to prepare for MH-CET have been hit the hardest by the NEET ruling.
“The CBSE syllabus is too vast,” says 18-year-old Jaspreet Kaur from Andheri. Despite her CBSE background, she finds it difficult to cope with the syllabus as she had been preparing according to the state board curriculum. “I put in around 16 hours a day for studies. If I have to crack NEET II, I will have to put in these many hours,” says Kaur.
Apart from the different syllabus, NEET, as opposed to MH-CET, also has negative marking, “Students are under enormous psychological pressure as they have to prepare themselves for this exam at a very short notice. This pressure will lead to depression and anxiety among aspirants,” said Dr Kamini Bhoir, psychiatric counsellor practising in Dadar. Having concentrated for a year, and in some cases more, on MH-CET, these students don’t have a backup plan in place. Some are giving up their dream of becoming doctors.
“I can’t risk waiting another year,” says Kaur. “But I haven’t had time to think of another plan.” Raikar said, “If I don’t get a good score in NEET, I don’t know what I will do.”
Twenty-year-old Ankit Patel from Goregaon too will write the NEET on July 24. This is his fourth attempt at securing a seat in a medical college. “The syllabus has almost doubled and students need to be careful of negative marking,” he says.